Surprise! Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is not joining the Republicans who are bailing on Donald Trump after seeing that 2005 video of him boasting about groping women.
Toomey appeared Tuesday morning in Villanova to accept the endorsement of Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, and he knew a gaggle of reporters would be there to ask where he is on Trump now.
Toomey stuck firmly to the indecision he’s embraced since May, when he wrote that he’s inclined to support his party’s nominee, but isn’t yet persuaded Trump deserves his support.
Sticks and stones
Toomey did throw some tougher words at Trump. He referred to the Republican and Democratic candidates as “two terrible choices” and went on at some length about Trump’s flaws.
“I’ve been openly very critical of policy positions Donald Trump has taken, some of the outrageous and appalling things that he’s said and done,” Toomey said. “I really question his temperament, and I’ve refused to endorse him because of those things.”
Asked afterward if that meant he’d never endorse Trump, or if he might vote for him, Toomey offered responses that weren’t answers.
Play the audio above and you can hear his 3-minute dance with reporters, with press secretary Steve Kelly doing his best to control and cut it off after a pretty limited exchange.
Toomey’s Democratic opponent, Katie McGinty, has been doing her best to drape Trump around Toomey’s neck for weeks.
After the video emerged, she started calling him “Fraidy Pat” for refusing to either endorse or rebuke Trump.
Stuck on the borderline
I was a little surprised Toomey didn’t put an end to the issue with a full-throated rejection of Trump, but I see the political logic of his waffle.
It’s true he’s not making friends with moderate voters, especially women, by equivocating about a candidate who bragged about sexual assault. But there’s real risk in an open rejection of Trump, too.
There are some seriously committed Trump supporters in the state, and they’re voters Toomey needs in what will likely be a close election. If he openly rejects Trump, it will cost him.
Toomey took every chance he could at the Villanova event to attack Clinton for “her repeated lies to the American people, her corruption, her dishonesty and the dramatic risk [she poses] to American security.”
And Toomey attacked McGinty for never uttering “a single word of criticism” of her nominee, while he willingly points to Trump’s flaws.
“That kind of reflexive partisanship is not helpful in Washington,” Toomey said. “It’s not going to help us break the gridlock that we have.”
A couple of hours after Toomey’s event, McGinty held a news conference with other Democratic women and condemned Toomey for “still standing with Donald Trump,” whom she called “lewd, lecherous, and a low life.”
Sounds even worse than “Fraidy Pat.”